As the world is entering a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent outbreak of the virus Monkeypox has caused countries to start preparing measures, as they fear the infectious disease could cause panic and another shutdown.
Smallpox and Chickenpox share similarities with Monkeypox, so some believe that since there are already vaccinations available to the public to deal with the former viruses, dealing with the newer ones should be easy. But most experts disagree with this way of thinking.
While the pox clan shares similarities in symptoms, all three viruses are different and ultimately affect different parts of the body in the long term.
Chickenpox comes from the varicella-zoster virus, which is unrelated to the Monkeypox virus. Chickenpox is a common virus and is highly contagious, while Monkeypox is rarer and does not transmit as quickly. As in the case of smallpox, Chickenpox does not cause lymph nodes to swell – which Monkeypox does. The incubation period for Monkeypox is usually shorter – usually, seven to 14 days, while symptoms of Chickenpox take an average of 14 to 16 days to appear, according to the CDC.
The virus that causes Monkeypox belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox, but it causes much less severe illness and is less contagious. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to, but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. The main difference, according to the CDC, is that • Monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell, while smallpox does not.
The cause for concern for the Monkeypox stems from the recent outbreak, the largest outbreak recorded since the first Monkeypox case. Currently, the USA alone has over 17,000 reported cases of Monkeypox this year. The current spread of Monkeypox is caused among men who have sex with men so far, generally through skin-to-skin intimate contact or by sharing contaminated towels and bedding.
While there has been only one death reported, and an investigation is ongoing in that Texas death, officials are still taking measures to ensure that the virus is contained and the infected can get the help they need by recommending isolation and vaccination.
President Joe Biden’s concern over the Monkeypox crisis has caused him to declare a state of emergency with other states like New York, California, Texas, and Illinois. States are trying to find a way to slow down the spread of Monkeypox.
“The USA deployed over 9,000 doses of vaccine and 300 courses of antiviral smallpox treatments,” according to a White House press release. “In today’s national monkeypox vaccine strategy, the United States is significantly expanding the deployment of vaccines, allocating 296,000 doses over the coming weeks, 56,000 of which will be allocated immediately. Over the coming months, a combined 1.6 million additional doses will become available.”
The LGBTQ community has been the focus as vaccines are being disturbed around the nation. As reported by the CDC and others, gay, bisexual, and transgender men are more likely to contract and spread the virus.
At press time, Los Angeles county had reported 1,323 cases, with 1,039 coming from gay men or same-gender lovers. These reports have raised public stigma that has advocates reminiscing about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“We already paid the price 40 years ago — I lost the love of my life — and now this virus has just reopened all those old wounds,” South LA resident Craig Bertrand said. “I never thought I would be scared to consider myself a proudly gay man again, but here we are.”
The health crisis comes as many are still recovering from the fear and isolation sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing threat of anti-LGBTQ policy around the country.
“We are already seeing the same tired hate speech targeting the LGBT community,” said Fernando Lopez, executive director of San Diego Pride. “We have heard all of these things before, yet here we are, fighting against going backward.”
Now, while some LGBTQ members were in an uproar about the news, people were upset about how vaccination doses were administered to the public.
“Had federal officials shown a strong will to action, more could have been done to stop the spread just using basic public health,” California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said, calling on federal officials to declare Monkeypox a national public health emergency. “During recent Pride Month activities, thousands of those vaccine doses could have been administered at celebratory events, clinics, LGBTQ bars, and gathering places throughout the state. That did not happen, and it enabled the spread.”
From June to July L.A. county has only received 24,000 doses of vaccination which will have little to no impact on the approximate 180,000 thousand LGBTQ community members. But the shortage has impacted all of California as Dr. Mark Ghaly, the California Health and Human Services secretary, requested 600,000 doses from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but only received 38,000 for July.
Adam Sukija-Cohen, a researcher for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, also reports a lack of doses for their wellness center in West Hollywood. “We’ve understood this virus for decades, yet the rollout was just as bad as it was with covid in the beginning,”
Sukija-Cohen asked the county and health officials to reach out to the health agencies and request more vaccination to help the public.
Ward Carpenter, director of health services for the L.A. LGBT Center, also doubles down on the lack of resources starting to take its toll on local residents there.
“It is starting to strain our resources. We are sending more and more tests. We are increasing staffing to be able to serve as many as we can,” he said. “From everything we’re seeing, we are on the uphill curve here.”
The L.A. County Public Health Department (public health) wants the public to know that their concerns have been heard and asked for patience as the agencies are speeding up testing to release more vaccinations to the public.
“Most patients will get better without treatment,” health officials said. “Our records indicate we have reached out to persons with positive results within 24 hours of hearing about a positive result. We understand this might have felt differently because patient anxiety starts as soon as they hear about an exposure. But we cannot begin case interviews until we receive the result.”
As of August, L.A. county received 72,190 doses and administered 48,692 to the LGBTQ community. Another 41,300 doses are arriving in L.A. county, which is a part of phase four of vaccinations allocation.
Another medication used to combat the spread of Monkeypox is Tecovirimat, known as the TPOXX. The TPOXX is an antiviral medication previously used for smallpox. But with FDA approval, it has been used on people who have severe diseases or are at risk of a severe infection of Monkeypox. Public health is also urging people to get a second dose of the Monkeypox vaccinations as they are steadily becoming available to the LGBTQ community and other people at high risk of the disease.
However, while measures were taken to stop the spread, it has only risen since the first report in May was found. There are 45,535 cases worldwide of Monkeypox reported, and a former CDC member feels like it will continue spreading.
“I think at this point, we have failed to contain this. We are now at the cusp of this becoming an endemic virus, where this now becomes persistent that we need to continue to deal with,” former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told “Face the Nation.”
Visit https://tinyurl.com/2p86tx4j for more information about Monkeypox and what steps to take after contracting the virus. The website also provides clinics that are administering vaccinations for Monkeypox. Be sure to check with your health care provider to verify eligibility for the vaccination, as there is a limited supply.